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I was trying to write "Half of the population will die" in Google Translate. I wrote:

「人口の半分は死にます。」

But Google decided this was better:

「人口の半分が死亡します。」

Are these just different ways to write the same sentence, or is using the noun and する verb better for this sentence?

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Neither is better than the other per se, but there is a clear difference in formality. As usual, the kango version (死亡) is more formal, whereas the wago version (死ぬ) is more common in casual speech.

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